For the first time since 2008, Valentino Rossi starts his home Italian MotoGP on top of the world championship standings.

Unbeaten at Mugello from 2002-2008, Rossi's majestic run came to an end with third the following season, before the biggest injury of his career - a broken right leg - during practice in 2010.

That incident left the fan-packed hillsides in shock and the Mugello parties remained muted when Rossi managed no better than fifth during the Ducati years, then fell after tangling with Alvaro Bautista on the opening lap of his 2013 Yamaha return.

The Doctor finally reclaimed an Italian GP podium, behind Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo, in last year's race. But with two wins and the world championship lead the 2015 Mugello atmosphere is set to hit levels not seen since Rossi's last title season in 2009.

"Arriving at Mugello as the leader in the championship and being in a great shape is perfect. We are fast from the start of the season and this is important," Rossi said.

While Marquez will be determined to get his title challenge back on track after a poor Le Mans, Rossi is aware that his toughest Mugello opponent could well be in the same garage.

Lorenzo has won the last two rounds and also has an exceptional record at Mugello, including race victories in 2011, 2012 and 2013,

"I really like the Mugello circuit, the Italian Grand Prix is always a nice weekend, but also Jorge loves this track," Rossi confirmed. "Jorge and I will try to put our Yamaha's on top again, but this time I hope it will be in a reverse order!

"In Le Mans I struggled a bit, but I still managed to take second. At Mugello we must not make mistakes with the set-up of the bike, starting from the free practices. We will work hard from the first day to make this a nice weekend.

"There will be so many people in Mugello. We will have even more fans visiting the track already on Saturday. It will be a great race!"

Challenging for a tenth world title in his 20th season of grand prix racing, Rossi currently holds a 15-point advantage over Movistar Yamaha team-mate Lorenzo, with Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso a further four points behind and reigning champion Marquez 33-points adrift.



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